Mac News Review

iPad Not Cutting into Mac Sales, OS and Browser Market Share, Wasteful Technology, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.07.09

MacBook, PowerBook, iBook, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iNews Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Reviews

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

iPad Not Cutting into Mac Sales

The Register's Tony Smith says:

"Apple's other product line - you remember the Mac, don't you? - is apparently doing rather well, despite the fact that the iPad and iPhone 4 are getting all the attention at the moment."

"...Mac sales through US retail outlets are up 37 per cent year on year for the three months to the end of May."

The iPad began shipping at the start of April.

Operating System Market Shares for June

Here's the Net Marketshare Operating System Total Market Share rundown of the significant players for June 2010 (May figures in parentheses) tracking changes over the the past month. Analysis summary is simple. Windows, Android, and iPad gained some ground. Everybody else lost share or stayed static, including Macs.

  • Windows: 91.46 (91.28%)
  • Mac: 5.16% (5.27%)
  • Linux: 1.07% (1.13%)
  • JavaME: 0.65% (0.73)
  • iPhone: 0.59% (0.60%)
  • Symbian: 0.25% (0.26%)
  • iPad: 0.17% (0.08%)
  • Android: 0.14% (0.11%)
  • iPod touch: 0.12% (0.12%)
  • BlackBerry: 0.07% 0.07%)
  • Windows Mobile: 0.04% (0.05%)
  • Playstation: 0.03% (0.04%)
  • FreeBSD: 0.01% (0.01% )
  • SunOS: 0.01% (0.01%)

Specific OS Versions

For Windows, it was a Windows 7 show, with all other versions dropping back percentage-wise, although XP and Vista are still in front in raw numbers of users. Nearly four years after Vista was introduced, Windows XP still has more of the Windows market than all other versions combined.

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard was the most prolific Mac OS version prowling for a third month, roughly quadrupling OS X 10.4 Tiger's receding user share (only receding by two-tenths of a point last month) - a contrast with Windows, whose 10.4 contemporary Windows XP remains the most prolific version in the Windows space.

  • Windows
    • Windows XP: 62.49% (63.53%)
    • Windows Vista: 14.68% (15.26%)
    • Windows 7: 13.70% (12.67%)
    • Windows 2000: 0.45% (0.50)
    • Windows NT: 0.11% (0.17% )
    • Windows 98: 0.06% (0.07%)
    • Windows ME: 0.03% (0.03%)
  • Macintosh
    • MacOS X 10.6: 2.47% (2.34%)
    • Mac OS X 10.5: 1.90 (1.96%)
    • Mac OS X 10.4: 0.66% (0.66%)
    • iPhone: 0.59% (0.60)
    • Mac OS X (no version reported): 0.12% (0.14)
    • iPod: 0.12% (0.12%)
    • iPad: 0.17 (Not rated in May stats)
    • Mac OS X Mach-O: 0.03% (0.05

Browser Market Shares for June

Turning to browsers, Chrome was the biggest gainer again in June among the major browsers. Internet Explorer is up a bit and Firefox down again marginally for the second month in a row (most likely due to Chrome). Safari and Opera both lost ground, as did Opera Mini, although the latter held on to 6th place in its own right.

Browser Total Market Share (May 2010 figures in parentheses)

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer: 60.32% (59.69%)
  • Firefox: 23.81% (24.35%)
  • Chrome: 7.34% (7.05%)
  • Safari: 4.65% (4.77%)
  • Opera: 2.27% (2.43%)
  • Opera Mini: - 0.66% (0.74%)
  • Netscape: 0.56% (0.46%)
  • Mozilla: 0.03% (0.17%)
  • Flock: 0.06% (0.07%)

Technology: What a Waste

ATPM's Mark Tennent says:

"In the past seven years we have been through: six new desktop Macs, three laptops, two scanners, four printers, eight operating system upgrades, twenty hard disks, and seven cell phones. All of which, when shared between two of us, is at least fifteen grand each.

"Then there are the six iPods (only two of which are mine), six monitors (CRT and LCD), a menagerie of mice, three routers, one switching hub, six TV capture devices, and four colour TVs. Plus upgrades to various pieces of software....

"...this profligacy is not something we are proud of, but at least we have recycled as much as possible by selling or giving kit away - the computers themselves being most easily sold. Macs at three or four years old may be obsolete compared with the latest computers, but they are still capable machines with a high resale value."

"On the other hand, we have only had three vehicles, two Hondas and a beaten-up, sixteen-year-old Toyota pick-up . . . Cars are supposed to be the most complicated consumer products and the easiest to use. In our experience they are the most long-lasting, too.

"Sound familiar?"

Editor's note: Tennent doesn't explain why he and his wife have gone through so many Macs, but it is heartening to know that the old one have remained in use. While we'd love to have the latest and greatest from Apple - or even the recently discontinued 2009 Mac mini - finances don't make that possible here.

At Low End Mac, our production machines are a dual 1 GHz Power Mac G4 (introduced seven years ago) running OS X 10.4 Tiger with Classic Mode and a Digital Audio Power Mac G4 (introduced January 2001) with a dual 1.6 GHz CPU upgrade and OS X 10.5 Leopard. Both machines have newer, faster hard drives and lots of RAM (2 GB and 1.25 GB respectively), and they meet our needs. Our newest Mac is a 2004 1.25 GHz eMac, and it's single processor give it a back seat to our older, dual-processor G4s. No waste here - but then, this is Low End Mac, and we really do believe in using your Macs as long as practical. dk

Don't Let Your Computer Ruin Your Eyes

Cnet's Dennis O'Reilly reports that if you spend more than two hours a day peering at a computer display, you have at least a 50-50 chance of experiencing vision problems or other physical ailments related to your PC use, according to Dr. Wendy Strouse Watt, O.D., in an article entitled "Computer Vision Syndrome and Computer Glasses" (2003), O'Reilly notes that the almost comprehensive shift to flat panel displays since Watt's article was first published may have minimized the risk somewhat, but also that most office workers now spend more time each day at a computer than they did at the time of the study, with a survey of optometrists estimating that 10 million "primary" eye examines occur annually in the US due in large part to use of computer displays.

Editor's note: Dr. Watt strongly recommends computer glasses, which are designed to accommodate your typical working distance and put less stress on your eyes. I've been using them for years and find it a huge improvement over trying to do my work with bifocals - even the computer optimized ones without lines. (Watt's recommends against bifocals when working at your computer.) dk

Installing and Running OS X on an External Drive Is Easy

MacFixIt's Topher Kessler says:

"One of the advantages OS X has over Windows is the easy ability to install OS X on practically any supported local volume, meaning that regardless of the hardware, if the volume can be mounted locally (as opposed to a network share) you should be able to install a copy of OS X to that volume and boot to it....

"Installing OS X to an external drive can be convenient for troubleshooting and being able to quickly move your whole OS installation around if needed; however, it does come with a few drawbacks...."

Kessler also lists some benefits.

Editor's note: We're huge fans of external drives, particularly for creating a bootable backup of your current configuration in case the internal drive fails. We've used SuperDuper for years ($28 demoware), and Carbon Copy Cloner (donationware) is an excellent alternative.

Two advantaged of external drives for those of us using older Macs are that FireWire drives don't suffer from the 128 GB limitation experienced by all G3 and most G4 Macs, and external drives may also be a lot faster than the drive inside your G3 or G4 Mac. For instance, our dual 500 MHz Power Mac G4 is set up as a server using OS X 10.5 Leopard, and it has a 240 GB external drive attached - with a 210 GB partition set aside for Time Machine backups (see Time Machine Can Now Backup to a Shared Hard Drive for details). This Mac is limited to 128 GB on the internal bus. dk

2010 Mac mini HDMI Port: What You Need to Know

Fairer Platform says:

"Apple has posted the Mac mini (Mid 2010): Frequently asked questions about HDMI, which covers the basics about the high-definition video out port built into the company's new, living-room-ready, super quiet, efficient and definitely Blu-ray free desktop (or entertainment center) computer. Here are a few of the points I found the most edifying...."

Add Magical Mouse Gestures to Your Mac with Quicksilver

App Storm's Joshua Johnson says:

"Remember Quicksilver? OS X's ultimate but long-dormant launcher has quietly been updated to work on OS 10.6 and above. I thought I d take the opportunity to dredge up an old but useful trick to boost your productivity.

"Below I'll show you how to setup Abracdabra with Quicksilver and add magical mouse gestures to activate any standard QS action. It's a relatively simple trick, but gives your mouse a power you've never known before!

"If you re not familiar with QS, you'll definitely want to read our Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Quicksilver. It's both one of the simplest and most complicated apps you'll come across and you'll get way more functionality out of it if you do your homework."

Reviews

2010 Mac mini: 'Environmentally Friendly Design and Efficiency'

AppleInsider's Daniel Eran Dilger reports:

"Apple's newest entry-level Mac recently received a full hardware makeover, with a wider but flatter aluminum unibody shell, integrated power supply, built in HDMI for home theater applications, and a greener more efficient design....

"In terms of performance, the standard Mac mini is built with the same general architecture as the entry level 2010 MacBooks....

"The server version ships with a slightly faster 2.66 GHz 'P8800' Intel Core 2 Duo and the same graphics hardware; the standard version can also be upgraded to that same CPU for $150 more."

Editor's note: The only difference between the 2.53 GHz P8600 and the 2.66 GHz P8800 is clock speed. dk

Products & Services

Hitachi LifeStudio Redefines Backup of Digital Content

PR: Meet the hard drive evolved: the Hitachi LifeStudio external hard drive family. During the last decade, external hard drives have offered little beyond design changes and simple storage and backup. With the new LifeStudio family by Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST), the company is breaking through the long-established confines of the category and delivering an external drive that combines highly reliable storage and new levels of data protection with content organization, management, socialization, and navigation for both local and online content.

Hitachi LifeStudio external hard driveThe LifeStudio family, offered in both portable and desktop models, creates an unprecedented solution that seamlessly pulls in, organizes, and protects consumers' priceless stored digital content - photos, videos, music, and documents- and unifies them with online digital content from social networks, such as Facebook and photo sites such as Flickr and Picasa Web Albums. These important digital memories are laid out on a stunning 3D visual wall, instead of in random and hard-to-find files and folders, creating a comprehensive and organized catalog of the user's digital life. Redefining backup, consumers receive the benefits of both local and cloud backup within one single application, making it easy to view, download, and share protected cloud content from any web browser, anywhere.

"Our LifeStudio drive starts where others stop," says Mike Williams, vice president and general manager, Branded Business for Hitachi GST. "These drives aren't just about interfaces and capacity, or backup. While these elements are important in an external storage solution, the value comes in creating lifestyle solutions that become part of the way we organize and relive digital memories. Our LifeStudio solution connects consumers to their online and local content in a more intimate way than ever before. For the first time, consumers truly have an integrated experience one solution to find, view, protect and relive their digital memories. This is a huge milestone for our category."

"Personal storage solutions have become an integral part of a consumer's digital life in terms of providing simple storage and backup," says Liz Conner, senior research analyst at IDC. "Pushing these boundaries, Hitachi's new LifeStudio drive brings an innovative approach to the market, addressing how consumers organize, navigate and relive digital memories, seamlessly across multiple digital devices and online sites. Coupled with Hitachi's local and cloud backup strategy, end users truly have an all-in-one solution to help manage their digital life."

Automatic Organization and Easy Sharing on a Stunning 3D Wall

Today it's not just early adopters using external drives to store and protect their digital lives; it's a huge segment of the population that are deeply connected to the content they create, collect, and share. Hitachi research has shown that organization is one of the most frustrating components of a consumer's digital life. Often hectic lifestyles lead to a lack of time spent organizing the growing amount of digital content received daily. What's left is a random storage process, which multiplies a user's frustration when trying to backup, share, find and relieve memories. Additionally, much of what consumers value from a content perspective is online and socialized on dozens or hundreds of sites. Hitachi is cleaning up the digital mess with the LifeStudio family of drives because, in the end, it's about content protecting it, reliving it and sharing it.

After a quick install of the software, the drive's innovative technology instantly kicks in. Your content photos, videos, music and documents stored on your computer, any connected USB storage device or online sites such as Facebook, Flickr and Picasa Web Albums automatically begins to appear in chronological order on your stunning 3D wall. Music is organized by artist or album. Now all of your most precious digital content is easily available at your finger tips. No more searching through files and folders.

Breakthrough Backup

Revolutionizing the way consumers protect their content, the Hitachi LifeStudio drive is the first to provide local and online cloud backup integrated into one single solution, within one install process. The LifeStudio application gives users multiple ways to easily protect their digital content on site or in the cloud. Every customer receives 3 GB of online storage for free, and for more storage there is an option to upgrade to a quarter of a terabyte (250 GB) for only $49 per year, which includes multiple computer protection.

Hitachi Backup™ is simple and easy-to-use with default options that cover virtually every Mac or PC users backup needs. When using Hitachi's cloud service, all content is stored in its natural format (no proprietary formatting), so files are protected and easy to view, download, and share from any web browser, anywhere, even from an iPhone and iPad. Backup runs every 30 minutes or can be scheduled at one's convenience.

LifeStudio Plus Drives with Integrated USB Keys

Hitachi understands the need to fit into consumers fast-paced, increasingly digital lifestyles. The LifeStudio products move beyond a hard drive in a box, into a category all their own. The patent-pending design of the LifeStudio Plus family provides the ultimate in flexibility with an integrated 4 GB USB key drive, which provides a quick way to sync important files and folders for grab and go ease.

With the LifeStudio Plus family, the drive's content management software conveniently allows you to select specific files or folders to sync to the USB key. As a result, users can simply remove the key and take what they need, while leaving the rest of their content safely stored at home. On return, the key docks on the drive to automatically sync everything back together.

Industry Firsts/Product Highlights:

  • Automatic Organization and Easy Sharing: First drive in the industry that automatically pulls together and organizes your photos, videos, music and documents from your computer, any connected USB device or your social media outlets; making them easier to access, view and share. Easily upload, view and interact with photos on Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa Web Albums without leaving the app.
  • Stunning 3D Navigation: The only external drive that effortlessly displays all your favorite memories on a 3D wall so you no longer need to dig through folders and files to find them.
  • Backup Redefined: Hitachi LifeStudio drives take data protection to the next level, offering both local and online cloud backup in one integrated solution, within one interface no more downloading and installing two separate programs. All online content is stored in its natural format, so files are available from any Internet browser anywhere in the world, and even from an iPhone and iPad.
  • Access to Favorite Premium Content: For the first time within an external drive, users can search, filter, watch or subscribe to millions of titles from online content providers. Catch the latest news, TV shows and music videos, or even play online games all from within the LifeStudio app.
  • Grab n Go Flexibility: Pushing design boundaries beyond a hard drive in a box, LifeStudio Plus external drives are the first in the industry that feature an integrated USB key for ultimate flexibility. The USB key easily synchs content for grab n go convenience.

Designed for both Mac and PC users, the LifeStudio USB 2.0 external drive family comes in both mobile and desktop solutions. Each comes preloaded with the Hitachi LifeStudio content management app and Hitachi Backup software. Hitachi LifeStudio external drives will be available at retail and online stores in mid-July.

The drives will be available in capacities ranging from 250 GB to 1 TB, and priced from $79.99 to $219.99.

Check out the LifeStudio social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Software

USB Backup: A Backup Utility for USB Flash Drives

PR: USB Backup allows you to backup your removable devices (and other partitions if you like) automatically so that you never have to worry about loosing your data again. The system works in just one single step: Plug in your USB pen, and USB Backup will do the rest; you don't have to do anything. Should your data ever get erased, you can then restore all your data using this nifty little app. The utility creates a backup of your USB pen(s) when you connect them to your Mac, allowing you to keep several versions of the files that were on the pen; should the memory pen ever get corrupted, you can just double-click the backup file and all your data will be restored.

System requirements:

  • An Apple Mac with an Intel Processor.
  • Mac Snow Leopard 10.6 or higher required.
  • At least 30 MB free RAM, however 40 MB is recommended.
  • 1 MB Hard Drive Space.

System Support: Intel (This is a 64 Bit Native Application)

£6.95 (app. $7.50) demoware

App to Disable & Enable the Dashboard

PR: While the Dashboard in Mac OS X is a neat utility, the developer of Disable & Enable Dashboard Utility says he basically stopped using it after the novelty wore off (as did your humble editor).

Preferring not to have unused applications running and taking up memory, he tracked down this Mac OS X hint to disable & enable the dashboard. It's been commented elsewhere that running the Terminal command killall dock and never launching the Dashboard has the same effect, but many would prefer to disable the Dashboard altogether to prevent accidentally starting it up (requiring a logout & login to get Dashboard out of memory).

Using ScriptGUI Disable & Enable Dashboard Utility packages both scripts into an executable that can be placed on the Desktop or in your Applications or Utilities folder. Running Disable Dashboard removes it from memory and disables F12 and the Dashboard icon. Running Enable Dashboard restores it (with the previously running widgets still in place).

Note: As a user at Mac OS X hints pointed out: It's probably also a good idea (that if you've disabled Dashboard and/or Spotlight), to remember that you've disabled them and re-enable them (just in case) before applying any system updates. I remember reading that some were having problems with the 10.4.1 update because they had disabled Spotlight beforehand.

The DisableDashboard Widget

PR: The only widget you'll ever need! :p Someone jokingly commented that I should make a widget out of the DisableEnableDashboard utility. Actually, it's not that crazy an idea as it sounds. I rarely use the Dashboard, there are maybe one or two widgets I use once a week, so it would be handy to be able to launch the EnableDashboard utility, popup Dashboard, use a widget, and then hit the Disable Dashboard button in the DisableDashboard-widget - and voilà, no trace of Dashboard in memory.

Included is the EnableDashboard utility to re-enable the Dashboard (obviously not a widget).

Editor's note: As someone who hardly ever touches Dashboard, this is a brilliant way to get rid of it when I'm done using it. It won't save a lot of memory or CPU resources, but it certainly can't hurt. dk

Desktop Mac Deals

For deals on current and discontinued 'Books, see our 13" MacBook and MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, 13" MacBook Pro, 15" MacBook Pro, 17" MacBook Pro, 12" PowerBook G4, 15" PowerBook G4, 17" PowerBook G4, titanium PowerBook G4, iBook G4, PowerBook G3, and iBook G3 deals.

We also track iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle deals.

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